All Posts By

Gabriella Debusschere


By | 2017, Europe | No Comments

You are led up a path amidst a crowd of so many others. Humiliation quickly becomes your new state of living due to the treatment of your captors. Everything you own is taken from you – your clothes, hair, individuality, and even your most precious possession: your name. In exchange for all this, you are given a new identity – a simple number, a resource to be exploited for as long as possible but as short as necessary.

This scene plays through my mind as I walked through the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial, trying to imagine what it might have been like to be a prisoner there during the Second World War. These thoughts make me wonder how the prisoners would have reacted to this dehumanizing process. I imagine that if I were standing in their place, I would probably try to maintain a hold on the dignity I knew that I inherently possessed as a human being. As time passed, however, I would probably soon despair and allow myself to believe that I was worthless and lacked dignity.

I wonder if these thoughts of mine could have been similar to what prisoners felt during the war or if they found a way to remind themselves, and each other, that they are more than just a number. Were they able to find and maintain a personal identity despite the fact that it was their identity that had been stolen from them in the first place? If so, how? Unfortunately, these are questions that I may never find the answers to unless I were to find myself in the same situation.

A Continuous Effect

By | 2016, Asia | No Comments

War is a huge thing. It affects people from all over the world, including those who have not even been alive while it was happening. This is one thing I saw very clearly in Laos. There, people from all over the country still suffer from a war which happened over forty years ago, a war which very few people in the West know about today. I used to be one of these people. In fact, I knew nothing at all about what was happening in Southeast Asia.

What surprised me about going to Laos is how peaceful it seems, despite having had millions of bombs dropped over multiple years. This was most evident to me when we went to the Plain of Jars. Hundreds of jars were scattered everywhere, and people came from all over just to see them. At the same time, there were several large craters where bombs of some sort had fallen, and there were markings where the Mines Advisory Group had removed bombs from all over the place. I wondered how a place that is so beautiful and peaceful could have once been a place overcome with war.

Plain of Jars


The country itself was amazing. It looked like any other country, not like a country still suffering from war. Still, as I walked around and as we rode to different places, I thought about how it would be possible for a bomb to explode under us, and then I thought of how the people in Laos have to live with the possibility of that happening every day. So, even though it seems as though the war is past, to the people it is still seems very present, and it will be until the bombs are gone, which may not be for another 200 years.